Saturday, November 19, 2016

Big Feelings Five Years Later

This week has been full of big feelings as we have faced the five year anniversary  from the day David was diagnosed with cancer.  Thanks to Time hop on facebook and the fact that November will always be different for me, I have relived lots of hard and painful memories this week from D-day at UVA five years ago.

Crunching leaves on a sidewalk will always remind me of those cool mornings walking from the Ronald McDonald house to the hospital trying to beat  the oncologist before rounds.  Thanksgiving break always reminds me of those days that David was recovering from surgery preparing to begin the battle with chemo.  There are so many memories floating around my head from those first few days where our lives changed on a dime.

So five years later here we are.  We are so incredibly blessed that our boy made it through the storm, and he is here with us.  He is a little beat up and scarred, but we are all stronger because cancer pushed its way into our lives.  Five years later we as a family understand what really matters and that list pretty much only includes God and family.

Cancer has made us laser-focused on raising our kids to be laborers for God's Kingdom and learning what it means to love our neighbor.  The love you all showed to us during the hard days changed us and made us want to be better neighbors back to you.  We want our kids to know that God comes first always and that our lives are meant to bring Him glory.  God was so present and powerful in those hallways of UVA hospital, that we were changed by seeing His glory.

I will never be bold enough to speak about how cancer changed Mike or our other kids-that is their story to tell not mine.  But as a cancer Momma who was blessed enough to be able to be bed-side with our boy constantly I have been changed.  I would never want cancer to enter our lives again, but I am so thankful that God used it to make me a better servant of His.

I am now bolder in sharing my faith because I know that Jesus is real, present and active in our lives.  and aching to be important to us.  He is our best friend, our comforter, our sustainer, and our healer.  I no longer feel the need to try to please man because I am here to please God and God only.  Not everyone will understand the changes I have been through and appreciate the newer me, but that is fine.  I want to raise my kids to be Godly servants.  I want to love my husband well and always honor my wedding vows. I want to welcome little preschoolers to their educational journey with a big hug and knowledge before they launch into "big school." I want to teach middle schoolers the amazing and life transforming story that is the bible and model for them how to put God first always.  I want to spend my life serving the least and the lost by showing the love of Christ.

So cancer, five years later you still are impacting us.  We never wanted you to enter our home but thankfully our God used you to teach us what is of value in this world.  Five years later I am still the same cancer Momma pouring my heart out on my laptop on this sared blog space, but today I can praise God our boy is still with us and that I am a new and improved version of myself.  To God be the glory today and always.  Amen.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Pumpkins, Hokies, and More!

This time of year the calendar is always full but with fun and festive fall activities.

This cutie went to the pumpkin patch with our afterschool church program.  That program has grown so much this year and Hope loves it!  The Conner family is always so sweet to welcome so many kids, preschoolers, and youth from church to visit their pumpkin patch and pick their perfect pumpkin!  This picture makes me sad because Hope looks so grown up here!
Thursday night Kyle and I headed to Blacksburg for a night Hokie game versus Miami.  Night games are so much fun at Lane Stadium and I love that for decades this has been one of the special things I have done with my Dad.  It thrills me that my boys love it as much as I do and that we have made some great memories in Blackburg together.  Yes, it was a late night for a work and school night but it was so worth it!
We love the Hokies and it was great to get a win versus Miami!!
Cousin Clayton also joined us and I caught this sweet moment walking to the car.  Clayton is also in sixth grade like David :)
Friday night Mike and I had a date night back in Blacksburg to attend the VT basketball tip-off banquet.  We are big fans of the VT coach, Buzz Williams and it was a great date night for us!  We were invited by the Glenns and got to sit with some other great Marion folks and mingle with the players and coaches, eat a great meal, and learn more about the VT basketball program.  We have such respect for Buzz because of his Buzz's Bunch program for special needs kids.
I took a selfie with the coach to show David!  There were some amazing auction items but they quickly got above our price range!  Ha!
My pictures are out of order again, but last week Mike and I started a new testament bible study at church.  Tonight was our night to take snacks to I got crafty thanks to pinterest and had a pumpkin themed snack!  Above are homemade cream cheese pumpkin muffins, and below are "pumpkins" made out of mandarin oranges and celery for the stem! I also made pumpkin bread with cinnamon chips.  Of course when we got to church Mike was given all the credit for the snacks!  HA!
We also got to visit with one of our favorite VT players, Seth Allen!  We will be rooting for him and all the VT players this upcoming season!

It has been a busy few days around here but I did get a night Hokie game with my oldest, a date night with my man, and time at home this weekend to try out new pumpkin recipes for bible study.  I am thankful for the beauty of this time of year and I am thankful for quality time with those I love the most.  Life is getting ready to get really busy as basketball season is coming up for all THREE of our kids!!  Enjoy the beauty of the season!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

This is What Inclusion Looks Like

Tonight I sat on a hard gym bleacher watcing an AAU practice.  This gal has spent many countless hours in the gym doing the same thing for our oldest but tonight I was sitting there for our David.  Our special needs child with low muscle tone, who has scars from battling cancer, and whose IQ is just below the magic line to be labeled with an intellectual disability, was invited to be on a local AAU basketball team.  Those who know David well know that basketball is his life, and watching him out on that court with his peers from school playing on a real team just about made this Momma come undone.  
 Tonight, my friends, I witnessed the pure straight up magic of inclusion.  Because David has been exposed to the typical curriculum in regular classes, he has made lots of friends- true friends who love him for who he is.  They certainly know he has a disability but good friends certainly do not count chromosomes.  Good friends know David loves basketball and has a pretty decent shot so when they needed a player they reached out to David.  I cannot handle the awesomeness that happened in that gym tonight.
We are certainly realistic and know that David will not be the tallest kid on the team and will not be called on to do the jump ball, or be the clutch foul shooter in a close game, but that is not what this is all about.  David has been given the opportunity to be on a team, receive a uniform, and make memories with his peers from school.  That is worth more than any basketball stats that will be kept this season in the stat book.
 Tonight the boys that missed two foul shots had to run suicides, and this Momma was probably the happiest mother ever to witness her child running suicides.  I love that the coach holds him to the same expectation as the other players, and has set the bar high for our Dave.  He does not have the ability that others may have but what this guy lacks in ability he compensates for it with heart and work ethic.
 Just when my heart was already beating out of my chest, Kyle was called out on the court to help in some drills.  I looked up and saw his awesome coach working with him on foul shots as big brother cheered him on.  God has certainly blessed our Dave with an amazing village around him!

Tonight I witnessed a beautiful example of what inclusion looks like-it looks like a child with a significant disability being included with his peers, being held to the same standard but with his friends recognizing that David was made a little differently.  I am not sure how many games this team will win this year but after witnessing their first practice, it truly does not matter because this team is made up of winners-from their coach down to every player who welcomed my son and encouraged him during his first practice.  This Momma is so thankful and overwhelmed by the magic of inclusion.

I also got to cheer on my favorite girl tonight playing tennis and this sweet girl was a joy to watch!  May her heart stay pure and her determination never dim.  She too is a winner!